Paul Day is expecting big changes in the future of the Edmonton Rush.
After a 1-15 expansion season, the only way to go is up and by signing a new two-year deal to be the Rush's general manager and head coach, Day wants to be a part of the team's turnaround in fortune.
"I absolutely wanted to come back and I had no visions of going anywhere else," said Day. "I think we're building something special and I'd like to see that through."
No dollar figures were released but a GM/head coach in the NLL typically makes between $40,000 and $80,000 US per season.
Assistant coach Darren Fridge wanted to be alongside as the team's luck turned for the better, but in a cost-cutting move, he's been given the boot. With the Rush looking to spend on the free-agent market this summer, the team had to free up some funds. And with three assistant coaches on the payroll, that area was the first to get trimmed.
Fridge felt the Rush made the wrong move letting him go instead of either Jim Milligan or A.J. Jomha, who is also the Rush's director of lacrosse operations.
"I feel I got kicked in the teeth," said Fridge, who is the head coach of Maple Ridge in the B.C. summer circuit.
"I left one organization (as assistant in Colorado) to come and build another. I have more experience at the NLL level than the other two guys and I brought a lot to the table as far as scouting and practice planning. No one will say it but it was also a political move. A.J. is the face of lacrosse in Edmonton, but I don't feel he's an NLL coach."
Fridge said he was told by Day that the decision had nothing to do with any personality conflicts or that he was responsible for the Rush's dreadful offence. But, noted Fridge, the perception in the lacrosse community will be that he is the fall guy for the team's lack of goal scoring.
"That's what frustrates me," said Fridge.
Day said it was a difficult decision to relieve Fridge of his duties considering they'd been friends for more than 20 years. Now the head coach will move on to finding new talent to restore some hope in a team that went 0-8 at home.
"Everybody knows now that we're a stable franchise with a front office that works full-time on lacrosse, that the coach and GM is here for at least two more years and what great support we had from the fans despite our record," said Day. "These guys can all see how the city is reacting to the Oilers and I think that will help us entice some free agents."
"I'm excited to see the fruit of Paul's labour start to materialize," added Rush president Duane Vienneau. "He has a plan and it will start to take effect this coming season."
QUICK STICKS: According to Vienneau, the Rush have had a 15% increase in their season-ticket base of 3,500 from last season and only five season-ticket holders have not renewed to date ... The Rush management team will attend the NLL's summer meetings in Las Vegas, beginning June 12. Trades can begin at that date and pursuit of free agents can start on Aug. 2.